Goodbye Dear Ulster

Throughout early 1915 the entire Ulster Division was striving towards war readiness, but its links with the UVF were not forgotten. Recruitment had brought in men who were not Ulster Volunteers, and indeed a number of catholics had joined, however the division was very mush the cream of the UVF's fighting strength.As the 36ths departure to the front drew closer, local UVF held meetings in Orange Halls and presented gifts to those from their number who had joined the army. Brigade sports days were held at the camps and in June, Shanes Castle camp at Randlestown staged a day of activities that included obstacle races and sack races, sack fights, tug-o-war and wrestling on horse back. Also during the final months the men learned to 'entrain' - to board and disembark from a train in an organised way. Rows of seats would be set in an open field to represent a carriage and then the men would be marched out in companies and ordered to 'left wheel' or 'right wheel' into the 'train'


                            
    Marching across country to the review and arriving at the review of the Division at Malone on 8 May 1915

The highlight of the final months was on the 8th of May when a grand parade of the entire Division was held in Belfast and was inspected by Maj. General Sir Hugh McCalmont at Malone. After the inspection the men were to march along a bunting strewn route to the City Hall.
That weekend-one of the most dramatic in the history of Belfast- the city was full of soldiers from all parts of Ulster, as the entire 36th (Ulster) Division assembled. Only the men of the 9th Inniskilling Fusiliers (Tyrone volunteers) were absent: they had to be quarantined at Ballycastle due to an outbreak of the 'German Measles'!



        Maj. Gereral Sir Hugh McCalmont taking the salute at the review with C.H. Powell, commanding the
        Division, on his right. Note the huge line of troops in the background.

At 12.30pm at Malone the 17,000 troops of the 36th (Ulster) Division were brought to attention and a bugle call signalled the start of the inspection. At 1.15 the men began to walk to the City Centre and at 2.30 the Mayor and Mayoress and Carson and his wife arrived at the City Hall. At 2.45 General Powell and his HQ Staff road past the head of the Division. Then came the Cavalry - the Inniskilling Dragoons - followed by the cyclist Company wheeling their bicycles. Four field companies of engineers and the signal company followed and pontoon and field equipment was carried past as part of the display. The 107th was the first of the infantry brigades to appear at the City Hall, with the 8th Rifles heading the march. The 108th Brigade followed, with fifes and drums of the Co. Down Volunteers band playing ';the Mountains of Mourne'. Then came the 109th Brigade - the measle stricken 9th Inniskillings replaced by the 16th Rifles and the Young Citizen Volunteers bringing up the rear. The procession was completed by the appearance of the Army Service Corps, with over one hundred horse-drawn transport wagons: the butchers and bakers: and the Royal Medical Corps, its field ambulances and equipment. When the entire Division had passed, the crowd sang 'God save the King' and slowly dispersed. This was Ulsters official farewell to the naive and proud men of the 36th Division, for in early July the soldiers were told to send home all their personal and private belongings for they were to be sipped across the Irish sea to complete the final part of their preparation in the South of England. Carsons Army would finally have to make its break with home, to become just another unit in Kitcheners army.



        The troops march past the Water office, Belfast, on 8 May 1915

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